In January 2022, the British government will rethink its perplexing pandemic-era international travel policies, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson removes the last of England’s Coronavirus prohibitions in favor of encouraging personal yet voluntary responsibility.
Ministers will “examine the policy in January,” according to Robert Courts, who spoke at the Airlines UK conference on Monday. We’ll investigate what we can do at that point.”
Airlines and industry lobbyists have slammed lawmakers for their strict stance on international travel rules, which appeared to be at odds with the country’s libertarian approach to the outbreak.
Willie Walsh, the former CEO of British Airways and currently the director-general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), called on the UK government last month to simplify testing regulations.
“In terms of day-to-day life, the UK is far more pragmatic in managing COVID-19 than many other states. But its approach to travel continues to focus on restrictions which cannot be justified based on risk,” Walsh commented.
While much of Europe removed travel restrictions over the summer, the British government successfully prevented a recovery with its often-mocked traffic signal system, inefficient and costly hotel quarantine program, and over-testing policies.
Even when some of those regulations were rolled back for fully vaccinated travelers, the British government made the contentious decision to refuse to recognize many travelers as completely vaccinated if they had obtained their vaccinations in most countries other than the UK.
The majority of the plethora of restrictions have been postponed, suspended, or eased, but entry obstacles continue to prevent the UK from fully recovering.
Most passengers are currently required to fill out a passenger locator form and pay for a quick antigen test, which must be completed within two days of arrival. The onerous passenger locator form, as well as readily falsified post-arrival tests, could be abolished as part of the government’s larger goal to eliminate pandemic restrictions.
The government may also try to simplify the guidelines in order to clear up any remaining ambiguity. Last week, transport minister Grant Shapps stated that no countries will be put to the UK’s Red List, which mandates hotel quarantine, but left the door open for new restrictions to be imposed at any time.